GEORGE & PHIL’S BREAKFAST MEDITATION, STOP #7: Glenn’s CafĂ© (guest starring Adam Sperber)

Glenn's Breakfast

Axiom of the Day: “Never trust dinner at a breakfast place; never trust breakfast at a dinner place.”

This axiom lands with some irony. Originally we had planned to defy the latter clause and head to McLank’s, which, along with some nice recent publicity has received some wildly varying reviews. Since none of the bad reviews were focused on their breakfast menu, we felt there was little risk, plus we could poach us a little of their publicity. (Our biggest concern was the dissonant, euphonia-bereft name). However, since our fond fellow Kewpie Mr. Sperber was in town, we decided to divert to a highly-lauded, time-tested Columbia spot that Adam (born and raised here!) had never heard of. I was surprised and excited to learn that Glenn’s opened at 7 am, because I’d only ever eaten dinner (and enjoyed a couple of tipsy brunches) there, thus the former clause sailed five feet over my head.

Things learned? Adam is Larry Bird’s Peanut Brittle Brother! Adam’s recent knockout karaoke rendition of “Suspicious Minds” evolved into an emo-cum-screamo interpretation due to Sperb’s lack of a Presleyian baritone! Adam is now a choir director bitch! And Adam finally digs Toni Morrison! This is why we occasionally invite him: George’s biggest news was that he was folding laundry later in the afternoon, mine that I am (supposed to be, right now) grading papers. We also mourned fallen comrades.

Also, he was a distraction from the fare, fortunately. I love this place, but–alas, that first axiom. George’s Belgian waffle was fancied up to resemble something more Las Vegas-ian, with an equivalent level of taste. My ham scramble was a touch on the watery side, and the bell peppers…can those be al dente? Adam’s cup ‘o yogurt appeared decent–he did pause his narratives frequently enough to eat it–but, as George noted on my way to drop him back off at his laundry room, “How can you —- up a parfait?”

I provided the adverb; no sooner had it left my lips than he provided, and I agreed with, the score (we’ve known each other awhile): “Profoundly–” “–a 5.” We have no plans to avoid Glenn’s in the future. Every institution has a bad day, and we’ve spent time in many of them.

Our server was delightful, attentive and stylish, and agreed to take our picture. If I look slightly unimpressed, it’s only because I’d just been crop-dusted upon returning from plugging the meter (Adam’s stories are long).


G & P at Ernie's

This ain’t no discovery. George and I have been coming here forever, together, separately, with our better halves, you name it–and if you haven’t been, you best change that condition. We just hadn’t gotten around to Ernie’s on our tour, and we were needing to recover our street cred after the last two stops. George had his heart set on their celebrated ham when he called me the other night; I had what I think of as “The Number 15”–anyone else add numbered combos to Ernie’s “Big 12”?–a pepper cheese, mushroom, and onion omelet, sausage patties, and hash browns. The place’s menu is beyond inviting.

I can hear you asking, “Did you get them extra extra extra crispy?” Funny you should bring that up. Our server was the dynamic, charming, and very awake Chloe (it was 6:30 am, and I hope I spelled her name correctly), and after Herr Frissell hissed to her his traditional potato expectations, she turned to me, smiled, and asked, “Would you like yours extra extra extra extra crispy, too?” How could I refuse? (Oh–and they WERE.)

Topics: NOMADLAND, the great Houston novelist Attica Locke, the ease of writing a check, our former colleague Sarah Gerling‘s excellence, the music of the Sahara, St. Louis’ crisis, platelet donations, the waning relevance of the Statue of Liberty, attempted but botched surreptitious tape recordings, and the charm of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders (no, we are NOT insane). Speaking of insanity, we also meditated upon absolute freedom and its danger to life and limb.

That doesn’t seem like much, but we were only there for 45 minutes…

GEORGE & PHIL’S BREAKFAST MEDITATION, STOP #9: Heuer’s Country Store (“postponed”) / JJ’s Diner (back-up)

I should have been prepared for the unusual when my supposedly laid-back old hippie friend changed our embarkation time from 6:30 to 6:15 to 6:00 over the course of four days (what’s the adverb form of “persnickety”?), which resulted in our near-replication of two classic horror scenes.

Since our trip required the traversing of over one mile, I insisted on driving out to wherever Heuer’s is. Ill-advisedly, I also insisted on immediately initiating a meticulous conversation while traveling 63 North in the pitch-dark and looking for Pinnacles Road. Remember Christopher Walken’s scene in ANNIE HALL? If George had been driving, I wouldn’t be alive to be writing this; since I was driving, we only narrowly escaped a Boone Country Traffic Incident text. Then, at 6:15, we arrived at Heuer’s, advertised as opening at 6, but emanating not a dim, mildly pulsating speck of light. We parked and decided to wait, and, for a few seconds, surveyed in silence the scene, which was dominated by an intensely lifeless cottage set just a ways back from the restaurant–intensely lifeless, that is, but for a single burning, lamplit window. George turned to me and stated, simply, “The Bates Motel.”

In record time, we were ensconced at JJ’s, our old stand-by, a place we claim to have once “internationally integrated” when we met our wonderful former students, Michele Sun and Maya Ramachandran, there for lunch. Apparently still rattled from the wee-ooo-WEEE eerieness of…is it Sturgeon out there?…Frissell 1) THOUGHT he was ordering from the senior menu (he’s not THAT old!), and 2) ACTUALLY ordered from the children’s menu! No, I am not kidding! Look at the pancake pic below! (I don’t ever have to think at JJ’s and thus avoid such eccentric displays: #7, over medium, no toast.) Our regular and wonderful former Kewpie server Sean did not even bat an eye. Of course, George was one of his teachers at Hickman, so why would he have?

Topics of banter: Love vs. Doors (those are bands, not emotional states); murder; NOMADLAND (it’s a great book!) and our own good fortune; Attica Locke (she’s a great writer–with a new book!); connubial splitting (in the dining sense); “cancel culture”; “Can human beings change?” (we have taught for a combined 3/4ths a century so they had better damn well be able to); political shenanigans; and the song “Hey Joe” and its misogynistic plot. Oh yes: and the Providence Bowl–George was sporting a vintage PB tee from the year Hickman won state.